Although he is better known to clickbait sites for his quizzical expressions at press conferences (see here and here), Tom Hardy is in fact a well-respected actor. What better time than his birthday to recount 5 of his top roles so far? Well, no better time, it would appear. Hardy is currently starring in Brian Helgeland’s Legend as both Ronnie and Reggie Kray, will be in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s The Revenant early next year and will jump aboard the war rig once more as Mad Max at an undetermined point in the future. For now check out his top 5 as decided by Depends On The Dream, and don’t punch me, yourself or anything else if you disagree. Only Bronson does that.
5. Eames – Inception
Christopher Nolan is not known for his side-splitting comedy routines; Inception is his best film, but also perhaps his most serious. The shining light in this tunnel of Very Important Dreamwork is Tom Hardy’s very British forger, Eames. Hardy’s performance is so welcome because, unlike everyone else in the film, he often doesn’t seem to be taking it seriously at all. His ability to play so laid-back yet switched on simultaneously marked him out for future roles. He also gets the closest thing Inception has to a joke line: ‘You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling’ – BOOM!
4. Bane – The Dark Knight Rises
Comic book villains are often defined more by silliness than strength – I’m looking at you, The Penguin – but Hardy’s Bane is a brutal, remorseless killer. Where The Dark Knight‘s Joker worked in between the lines of morality, Bane throttles those lines before smashing them to a pulp. He is a brain too, effecting the hijack of an aircraft on which he is captive while it is in mid-air, to obtain a hostage for use months down the line. With no lips to purse or teeth to bare, Hardy used that divisive voice to the fullest to inspire fear and fervour into the citizens of Gotham, most memorably outside Blackgate prison (‘And do you accept this man’s resignation?!’). Some thought it to muffled; for others (including this writer) it was the most memorable villain vocals since Jeremy Irons’ Scar in The Lion King.
3. Charles Bronson – Bronson
As with Bane, Hardy’s Bronson has muscles to spare – the poster of him emerging from a yellowish light, pectorals the size of Poland, is still THE defining Tom Hardy image. One review made the comparison with A Clockwork Orange; it is a deserved one, and Hardy’s ability to balance the fists with the funny raised this film from a violent B-movie into something more interesting and memorable. The line ‘it was madness at its very best’ supposedly came directly from Bronson himself; it is an apt description of his life, the film and Hardy’s fantastic, unrestrained performance.
2. Tommy Riordan Conlon – Warrior
Boxing movies are supposed to be sport’s cinematic apex, but are as easy to get wrong as they are right. Gavin O’Connor scored a knockout with Warrior by giving his three main actors (Hardy, Joel Edgerton and a never-grizzlier Nick Nolte as their dad) full dramatic licence. These were not punching machines, but fully-realised characters, enduring a constant tussle between their immense physicality and their emotional responsibilities as humans. It is insufficient to say this is a movie about masculinity; it is about humanity, and how we interact with the events of our past. Tommy struggles at first, before opening up to those around him; thanks to Hardy each part of his journey is wholly relatable, even to us non-boxers.
1. Ivan Locke – Locke
I saw Locke as part of a 6-film all-nighter at my local cinema, and 10 minutes in I groaned at the realisation that neither he nor us were leaving the confines of his car for the duration. My displeasure turned to complete captivation, as Locke’s world began to unravel in several different locations where he was not. The film considers whether life happens around us or inside our minds (or both); it does this so effectively thanks to Hardy’s increasingly fraught facial expressions, combined with Steven Knight’s assured writing and directing. His subtle switches in personality as he speaks to each different person is still one of the most truthful pieces of acting I’ve yet seen. At a snappy 85 minutes, there is every reason to give this one a test-drive.
So which roles are punching above their weight here? Are you mad at the omission of Max? Are YOU the one fan of the execrable This Means War? Comments please, here and/or at @dreamdepends – and Happy Birthday Mr Hardy!